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City Managers


There have been all sorts of governments and political theories in our world's history, and much of the structure of U.S. government is based on the theories and practices of other nations. The "council-manager" form of government, however, is truly American in origin. With government reforms of the early 1900s came government managers. Before the reform, cities were run by city councils or boards of aldermen. Because of rigged elections and other corruption by aldermen, a mayoral form of government was brought into practice. The council-manager form of government also evolved. Though a mayor is elected and holds political power, the city manager is appointed by the council. When the elected officials develop policies, the city managers use their administrative and management skills to put these policies into action. Some Southern towns began to develop council-manager forms of government as early as 1908; Dayton, Ohio, became the first large city to put the council-manager form into place in 1913. According to the International City/County Management Association, more than 3,540 municipalities (communities with 2,500 people or more) operate in the council-manager form today. More than 185 million people live in these communities.